Regulator reclaims 5G-suitable spectrum after FreshTel goes stale

20 Feb 2019

Ukraine’s National Commission for State Regulation of Communications & Informatization (NCCIR or NKRZI) adopted a decision yesterday (19 February 2019) to cancel the nationwide 3.4GHz-3.6GHz WIMAX wireless broadband operating licence of Ukrainian High Technologies (FreshTel) for failure to utilise the frequencies, it announced on its website. TeleGeography’s GlobalComms Database says that FreshTel was established in 2005 as Ukraine’s first commercial WiMAX provider, and its current 15-year licence was due to run until November 2021, but it suspended operations during 2018. The NCCIR stated that the 3.5GHz licence revocation was aimed at increasing effective use of spectrum ‘in order to further introduce the latest technologies in Ukraine’, implying that the band will be made available for 5G mobile/fixed operating concessions. The decision enters into force ten days after its adoption and is implementable after three months.

The NCCIR’s announcement confirmed multiple reasons for FreshTel’s licence revocation. The company failed to meet licence stipulations to fully develop its 3.5GHz network in all Ukrainian regions by June 2013, and in twelve regions the operator had no valid permits for equipment operation. Furthermore, the February 2019 decision claims that the firm had discontinued use of the licensed frequencies ‘for more than one year’. It had also failed to report subscriber information to the regulator and had not paid spectrum fees for a period of more than six months.